Lisa Diller, M.D.
Lisa Diller is the Chief Medical Officer, Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Care. As a pediatric oncologist and the Clinical Director of Pediatric Oncology, she leads the joint clinical Pediatric Oncology Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. She is also the Director of the Perini Family Survivors’ Center and the David B. Perini, Jr. Quality of Life Clinic for Cancer Survivors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Diller received a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, and earned her medical degree from the University of California at San Diego. She was a resident at Boston Children’s Hospital and did her subspecialty training at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Hospital where she has been on the faculty for 19 years. Dr. Diller’s research focuses on the late effects of treatment for childhood cancer and genetic cancer predisposition syndromes in childhood. In addition, she investigates novel treatments for pediatric solid tumors, particularly neuroblastoma.
A Message from Our Medical Advisor – January, 2011
Thank you for giving me a moment to introduce myself, and to tell you how much I appreciate the work you do supporting neuroblastoma research. I am a pediatric oncologist at the Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center. I have been a pediatric oncologist for about 20 years, and care for children with all types of cancer, but I have a particular interest in neuroblastoma. When I started my career, children with the most aggressive form of neuroblastoma (what we now call “high risk” neuroblastoma) almost always succumbed to their cancer, with only about 10% of them being cured. Now 20 years later, we are still not satisfied, but the chances of cure are much higher – close to 60%. This improvement is largely based upon clinical research trials conducted over the years which pointed the way to higher cure rates. A newly diagnosed child today will receive combinations of chemotherapy, aggressive surgery, peripheral blood stem cell supported transplant (“bone marrow transplant”), biologic therapy, and immunotherapy over the course of about a year. This is tough to get through, and too many kids and families suffer too much. And it doesn’t always work, so that is where you come in!
The studies you have supported are trying to find new ways to treat neuroblastoma that are more targeted, cure more kids and leave them stronger after they are done. Dr. Glade Bender is studying how to target the tumor’s ability to promote its own blood supply; if we can “choke” the tumor, we can kill it without hurting the child. Dr. Kushner is studying ways to make a child’s immune system react against neuroblastoma so, like getting a measles or chicken pox vaccine, a sick child is vaccinated against his or her own neuroblastoma. Each clinical trial requires funds for collection and analysis of data, for drugs, for correlative biologic studies, for nursing support and for the researcher's time and support staff. Thank you so much for your fundraising… it is really making a difference!
I saw one of my patients with neuroblastoma recently. She had the disease when she was 3 and now she is 20. She participated in one of our first trials, and is still teaching me what we should be doing differently. But she is healthy, strong, in college, and thinking of a career in health care. I hope that all children with neuroblastoma will make it to this point, and that our improvements in therapy will leave them with a full life, without any long-term effects of their therapy.
All my best for a great year!
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